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Best of John G. Brokopp

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Las Vegas Re-Inventing Itself...Again

29 May 2001

In the early 1990s, Las Vegas went all-out to shed its "Sin City" image by promoting itself as a vacation destination for the entire family. Casinos with fantasy themes were built, roller coasters and other thrill rides sprung up on the Strip, and before long moms and dads with toddlers in tow and babies in strollers became a common sight in America's gambling mecca.

The powers that be in Las Vegas apparently have decided that the wholesome image has run its course. Judging by a new $19 million television advertising campaign that is about to be unveiled, sin is once again the focal point of the city that never sleeps.

The decidedly adult-oriented commercials depict the animated silhouettes of two cavorting nude women who hitch a ride to Las Vegas on the mud flaps of an 18-wheeler. (Yes, you read that right!) The tag line is: "Las Vegas. What you want. When you want it." The print campaign expresses a similar message: "Rule No. 1. There are no rules."

Las Vegas had its most successful year ever in 2000. So why mess with a good thing? Change has always been what Las Vegas is all about. By continually re-inventing itself, the city never gets old and therefore never becomes tired.

I never really bought into the wholesome family image. Children always seem out of place amid casino life. The only plus I ever saw was the opportunity to get relatively inexpensive airfare, reasonable hotel accommodations, and bargain meals in a place in the sun. With the abundance of swimming pools, family-oriented attractions, and sightseeing opportunities such as Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon, all a family had to do was to de-emphasize the gambling to enjoy a great vacation at a great price.

Las Vegas is re-energizing itself with a return to that old stand-by of "sex sells." Just ask Vince McMahon, impresario of the World Wrestling Federation and the new XFL. I shudder to think what kind of casino he'd operate if he were ever granted a license to run one! The theme has worked for Las Vegas before. It'll likely work again.

* * * * *

You knew this one was coming. There's a move afoot to permit dockside gambling in Indiana. Ever since mid-1999, when dockside gambling was legalized in Illinois, casino business in Northwest Indiana took a hit. Insiders predict Indiana could have an additional $328.5 million in additional gaming and admission tax revenues should the Hoosier State permit come-and-go-as-you-please gambling aboard its fleet of riverboat casinos. Most of the increased revenues will come at the expense of Illinois. The battle for wagering dollars rages on.

The horse racing industry continues to emulate its casino gambling competition. Last year "Instant Racing" electronic gaming devices were introduced to racetracks in Arkansas in an effort to capitalize on the popularity of slot and video poker machines. Racing's latest "join 'em rather than 'beat 'em" philosophy is to introduce player's club programs to its marketing repertoire.

Sportsman's Park Race Track in Cicero, Ill., launched its "On-Track Rewards" program this year. Bettors sign up for player's club cards that they insert into the betting machines every time they place a wager on-site at Sportsman's Park. Points are accrued for every dollar wagered. The points can then be redeemed for prizes.

Arlington Park in Illinois experimented with a player's club program last summer. It was met with moderate success. Sportsman's is taking the concept a step further by offering high-end merchandise and the opportunity for even modest players to earn a nice award. The program rewards player loyalty and returns value for betting dollars, a familiar casino marketing theme. Arlington is stepping up its program this year with a re-designed "Twin Spires Club" that will be in force at Churchill Downs operated racing properties around the country, including Calder Race Course in Florida, Hollywood Park in California, and Hoosier Park in Indiana.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp